Cambo oil field: Scottish government needs to grow up about North Sea industry's future after Shell pulls out – Brian Wilson

Shell’s decision to pull out of the Cambo project takes that debate, abruptly, into a new realm.

It is no longer about political positioning or second guessing what Whitehall might decide in order to be against it.

This is now about stark choices for the North Sea and the tens of thousands of Scottish jobs that depend on it. I doubt if Shell will cut its investment in oil and gas development world-wide by a single dollar as a result of this decision. It just means it will not be happening in the North Sea.

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The alternative is not a blissful new world in which oil and gas disappear as quickly as Scottish jobs. It is, inescapably, about increasing imports from other countries, many with far inferior regulatory regimes and higher carbon footprints. The “principle” which Ms Sturgeon has discovered will be paid for in other people’s jobs.

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Cambo oil field: Shell pulls out as future of offshore development uncertain

This is not an argument between renewables and fossil fuels. The transition is happening but nobody contests the fact it will evolve over decades. The duration of the Cambo project if it goes ahead will be 25 years. There is no sense in instant self-harm with counter-productive effects, not only for the economy but also the environment.

It is now time for the Scottish government to grow up and adopt a rational position. They got to where they are today by talking up North Sea oil as the funder of Scotland’s future. They now need to think very hard before becoming the party that stands for the industry’s premature death.

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Shell's decision to pull out of the proposed Cambo oil and gas field has put the project in doubt (Picture: Getty Images)

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